Expert Answer Forum
Salvation QUESTION from Edward Williams January 13, 1999 There is no Salvation outside the Caholic Church. This is Dogma.
Here is my question: Since Baptism of Desire and Blood is not a Dogma. Am I free to NOT believe in either or both Desire or Blood baptisms?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius on January 16, 1999 Dear Ed:
Thank you for your question. This is an issue that is often misunderstood.
The short answer to the question of whether we are free to not believe in Baptism of Desire or Blood is No, we do not have that choice.
Baptism of Desire and Blood has been continually taught by the Magisterium from the beginning. Thus it is an infallible doctrine according to the Ordinary Magisterium.
We need to remember that it is not just formally defined and proclaimed dogma that is infallible and binding in faith. Doctrines may also rise to infallible and binding in faith when it has been continually taught and proposed by the Magisterium throughout the centuries.
Canon law summaries this point (Canon 750):
All that is contained in the written word of God or in tradition, that is, in the one deposit of faith entrusted to the Church and also proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn magisterium of the Church or by its ordinary and universal magisterium, must be believed with divine and catholic faith; it is manifested by the common adherence of the Christian faithful under the leadership of the sacred magisterium; therefore, all are bound to avoid any doctrines whatever which are contrary to these truths. In the case of Baptism of Blood, this teaching, for example, is documented as far back as Tertullian (c. 200 A.D.):
We have, indeed, a second font, one with the former: namely, that of blood, of which the Lords says, I am to be baptized with a baptism (Luke 12:50), when He had already been baptized. For He had come through water and blood (1 John 5:6), as John wrote, so that He might be baptized with water and glorified with blood. He sent out these two Baptisms from the wound in His pierced side (John 19:34), that we might in like manner be called by water and chosen by blood, and so that they who believed in His blood might be washed in the water. If they might be washed in water, they must necessarily be so in blood (Matt 22:14). This is the Baptism which replaces that of the fountain, when it has not been received, and restores it when it has been lost. In the case of Baptism of Desire, we also see a continuing teaching by the ordinary Magistgerium.
This is a matter of Faith. It is taught in various places such as:
Canon Law No. 849 (Canon 737.1 of the 1917 Code); c. 2, X de presbytero non baptizato, III, 43; Conc. Trident, session VI, de justificatione, c.4; and session XIV, de poenitenia, c. 4; St. Pius V Constitution, Ex omnibus afflictionibus, Oct. 1, 1567; and other sources.
A recent exposition of this continuing teaching of the Church was in Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, No 16 (which was a dogmatic constitution, not a pastoral one) and this passage also speaks to the true meaning of no salvation outside of the Church:
Those who without fault of their own do not know the gospel of Christ and his Church, yet seek God sincerely and try, moved by grace, to do his will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience, may attain eternal salvation. Divine Providence does not deny the help necessary for salvation to those who without blame have not yet come to the express knowledge of God and strive to live a good life with the help of his grace. The Catechism summaries all this:
1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are reborn of water and the Spirit. God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.
1258 The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.
1259 For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.
1260 Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery. Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.
1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: Let the children come to me, do not hinder them, allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.
Concerning Outside the Church there is no salvation the Catechism gives a great summary of this:
846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:
Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.
847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:
Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.
848 Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.
The bottom line? Baptism of Desire and of Blood are part of the Deposit of Faith and we are bound to believe in these doctrines.
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